Beautiful things for you and your home!

Lots of homely thoughts on sewing, baking, papercrafts, gardening and all the things that go towards making your house a home

Friday, 12 December 2014

Mending Stuff and Putting Sewing Back on the School Curriculum

We all know that sewing is a fun, creative, sometimes frustrating, sometimes relaxing but pretty much fabulous hobby. But, at the risk of sounding boring, it's also flippin' useful!

This is just one of the many reasons why sewing should be put back on the school curriculum And when they do, they must ensure that it's done in the right way. A lot of people I've spoken to about this, who were in the last few years of having sewing taught at school (and even then it was an 'option', so not everyone did it), were more put off by sewing in class than encouraged. Had I not had a pretty firm background of loving fabrics and sewing, obtained by osmosis of having a Nan who was a professional seamstress, I would probably have been one of those who never picked up a needle again. As it was, I didn't look forward to the class - which says a lot about how it was taught.

There are so many fun things that children could make in the process of learning these skills in an appealing way, that I really hope the powers that be don't insist on the same old boring oblong shaped apron that we were all started on. Textiles are fun. Sewing is a sort of magic - that something 3D appears from what a short time before had been just a flat piece of fabric. Something that you can wear. Something that when someone says, 'Oh, I love your coat/hat/skirt/dress/bag (etc), where did you get it?', you can reply, 'I made it.' I guarantee that they will be impressed. And the buzz that you get from a compliment on something you've made is fabulous - and addictive - but in a good way! And, of course, with the increase in interest in sewing, the amount and variety of fabulous fabrics has increased exponentially!

I'm planning a WIP bag for the fabric on the left and probably a skirt for the one on the right

So, on to the more boring, but useful stuff I have been doing. I have to say I'm not a great fan of mending things. It's not really what I want to sew for but there's no doubt that it comes in useful and just sometimes has to be done.

I believe I mentioned in another post that a couple of months ago I got a dress at M&S in the sale. It was £21, down from £55 (I'd looked at it previously non sale, and loved it but it seemed pretty pricey!). I tried it on, it fitted perfectly. That in itself is a miracle. But then I noticed that the waistband was coming away from the embroidered band above it. I mentioned this at the till and asked for a little bit more off as it was damaged. So, off came a few more pounds and yes, it was a little fiddly but didn't take me much more than half an hour and I then had a lovely, easy to wear dress for £18 instead of £55.

Next, I was back with the M&S clothing but this time far less impressed that the coat I'd bought there at the beginning of the year, and had barely worn was coming away at the sleeve lining!

Sleeve lining (on the left) coming away!

This was not a cheap coat so I wasn't happy. Obviously they don't stock it anymore and the actual coat I love so it was out with the needle again. A bit fiddly, yet again but I muddled through and did a fairly neat job I think, bearing it mind it was trial and error.


On to some gloves now. I made these gloves many moons ago and they really have been well used. Being fleece they dry so quickly and as I used to use them all the time for walking a large dog in an often muddy forest, they have seen the inside of a washing machine plenty of times. No longer having a pooch, I dug these out the other day when it was a big nippy for a trip out on the bicycle. Which is when I noticed a hole, and then another, and then another! Oops!

Holey moley!

Still, a needle, some thread and a bit of telly and the problem was soon solved.

Added to that I finally got around to plumping up the square beanbag pouffe I made a few years ago when we moved in here as it had started looking decidedly sad. The original was made pretty easily because I refused to pay the £50-£75 the shops were charging for the same thing! I found some gorgeous faux suede from Croft Mill and went to work. Yes, you do end up finding the odd polystyrene ball for the next several weeks but any shop bought one would go flat too and if you can't plump it up, that's a lot of money wasted.

I realise I should have snapped a pic of the item in question, now fully returned to plumpness, but it's just been one of those times so please forgive, and I'll grab one later. In the meantime, take it from me that it's once more returned to squareness, with a little squidgy thrown in for good measure!
This also got the plumping up treatment. I use it in the car, in the small of my back to help against backache. It really helps but had got so flat that it was getting to be of little use. As this was a shop bought one (in which I clearly had no choice of colour!), I just snipped a hole near a seam, poured in some beans and hand sewed it up again with little stitches. It's not that noticeable and really, for shoving behind my back in the car, it really didn't matter if it wasn't a masterpiece anyway.

My last 'mend' was more of an adaptation. I'd popped into Boots for some powder puffs and it wasn't until later I thought that having a bit of ribbon on the back would make them much more user friendly so that's just what I did. If you're anything like me, you have ribbon to spare and as only a tiny bit was needed, it didn't take long. I even tweeted a photo to Boots of my adaptation which they kindly responded to, and are having their sales team look into the modification.

1 mushroom + 1 pair of lovely warm tights with a thin toe + a few spare minutes = fixed + money saved

So, whilst it's without a doubt totally fabulous to whip up a dress, it's good to remember that sewing skills are useful for the little things too. Getting my coat fixed would have cost me and if I'd bought the damaged dress without the ability to fix it myself, getting someone else to do it would have meant that it was back up around it's pre-sale price.

We live in a throwaway world but many are gradually coming around to the idea that this isn't always the best option, thanks to the renewed interest in sewing and knitting, and crafting in general. A generation or two ago, most women could sew - at least the basics. We need to get back to that, but not just for women, for men too. It's useful and it's fun! What more could you want?

Happy creating!

Love, Maxi

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